Another race, another win for Verstappen in Chinese GP

Staff WritersAP
Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominated yet again with an emphatic victory in the Chinese Grand Prix. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconRed Bull's Max Verstappen dominated yet again with an emphatic victory in the Chinese Grand Prix. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Another race has brought yet another victory for Red Bull's Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman dominant again as Formula 1 returned to China.

The three-time defending champion won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday after starting from pole, his fourth victory in five races this season and his 23rd in the last 27 extending through last season.

Only a brake failure last month at the Australian GP in Melbourne probably kept him from sweeping all five. In Shanghai he trailed for only a few laps, following a pit stop.

Lando Norris of McLaren finished almost 14 seconds behind Verstappen -- the eighth time he has been second in his career as he still seeks his first victory. Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was third.

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McLaren's Oscar Piastri finished eighth after starting fifth on the grid, while fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo was a mid-race withdrawal after Aston Martin's Lance Stroll drove into the back of his RB in a three-car tangle following a safety car restart.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz came fourth and fifth respectively, holding off Mercedes' George Russell and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin. After Piastri, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the point-scorers in ninth and 10th.

Verstappen now has 110 points to lead the standings followed by Perez (85), Leclerc (76), Sainz (69) and Norris (58).

"It felt amazing," Verstappen said. "All weekend we were incredibly quick and it was just enjoyable to drive.

"The car was basically on rails and I could do whatever I wanted to with it. Those kind of weekends are amazing to feel."

The saftey car came out twice in the middle of the race. Once after Sauber's Valtteri Bottas stalled at the edge of the track with a blown engine, and again with two nearly simultaneous incidents.

In one, Kevin Magnuessen clipped Yuki Tsunoda, while Stroll collided with Ricciardo in the other.

Verstappen's dominance also extended to Saturday, when he took the inaugural sprint race of the season.

This was the first F1 in China since 2019, with the COVID-19 pandemic and China's response to it wiping out four editions of the race.

Shanghai-born Zhou Guanyu finished 14th for Sauber, perhaps his last chance to race at home as teams next season will shuffle their driver line-ups.

The real competition in F1 for the rest of the season appears to be for the half-dozen places behind Verstappen and Perez. Mercedes' George Russell called it "a fight" for places No. 3 through No. 8.

The next GP is Miami on May 5 where it's often a celebrity show. There was also a parade of Chinese celebrities in Shanghai, with former basketball star Yao Ming and double Olympic champion skier Eileen Gu posing for photos in the paddock and on the track before the start of the race.

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